It’Sa Too Bada, Guru

Among the numerous gurim (gurus?) who have left the Indian subcontinent to find fame and fortune in North America, the best known is Maharaj Ji (Hon. Great Dominion). A close reading of his official biography, Who Is Guru Majaraj Ji? (Bantam, 1973), could make one think that the guru, born in 1957, has managed to prolong the sixteenth year of his life beyond the usual 365 days (he is constantly cited as a [the?] fifteen-year-old perfect spiritual master).

Lest the reader think it a bit ostentatious of a fifteen-year-old to call himself Hon. Great Dominion, his mother, who presumably had a say in the matter, is known to his followers simply as Mata Ji (Hon. Mother). And the guru is hardly stingy with titles. When under the British Raj (Dominion), India reserved the title Mahatma (Great Soul) for the preeminent Indian leader of our century, Gandhi. But among the adherents of Maharaj, the title of Mahatma has been so widely awarded that it now appears to represent a kind of rank, such as cardinal or canon.

Maharaj Ji promises his followers quite a few desirable things, including Knowledge and Peace (slogan: A Millennium of Peace for People Who Want Peace). Not all gurim, however, are so mild. One who apparently won’t make it to the West is Punjabi Baba Baghel Singh, called by his followers “Mastnaian da sab too bada guru” (the greatest guru of the happy-go-lucky). According to the Bombay Current, Baba Baghel Singh and his deputy, Kudlip Singh, were reputedly killed in a run-in with Punjabi State Police. While Maharaj Ji as a matter of record has founded a magazine, a travel service, and a television company in America, stay-at-home Baba Baghel would appear, according to Current, to have taken things a bit too far in his Lai Kurti (Red House) movement, supposedly operating sixty “dens of ill fame” in the Punjab. After the Baba’s reported slaying, his followers marched through Alamgahr threatening death to all who refused to acknowledge him as an incarnation of the god Krishna, then went on a rampage and killed thirteen unresponsive spectators.

The mild Maharaj movement will doubtless appeal to religiously inclined Americans more than the ill-famed Lal Kurti. Even so, in view of the spreading Occidental interest in wisdom from the Orient, readers should probably begin now to orientate themselves in the promising science of gurology (study of gurim, not to be confused with gurolatry, worship of gurim). (Incidentally, contrary to an impression given by a well-known fortnightly magazine of evangelical conviction, Occidental sage Bill Gothard is not to be called a guru). Gurology now has financial as well as religious appeal, since the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has begun underwriting, albeit in a small way, projects involving the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s “science” of Transcendental Meditation (as a cure for drug addiction). The content of guronic teaching can be called gurosophy, (wisdom of gurim). Legal questions relating to gurim come, of course, under the heading of gurisprudence. One sticky constitutional matter remains to be clarified, however: if Maharaj Ji claims tax exemption for his gurosophy as a religion, how can Maharishi Mahesh get federal funds for his without violating the Wall Between Church and State? A thorny issue in gurisprudence, indeed.

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How To Pray

Richard C. Halverson’s article “A Master Lesson on Prayer” (Jan. 18) was inspiring for the most part, but it appears to me that we still need to learn a good deal about how to pray. Much too often in formal prayers, not to mention hymns and creeds, we say things that have a “biblical ring,” but which we repeat without stopping to think what they mean. No doubt this is what Hamlet intended when he said, “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Simsbury, Conn.


Unmolding Radio Church

I find “Radio Church: Is Anyone Listening?” by C. Benjamin Hale, Jr. (Jan. 18), very disturbing. He puts religious broadcasting programs in a mold, which is not true; they are very flexible and varied.

Just how would Mr. Hale succeed in converting the world by radio, as he suggested could be done? By rock music, instead of the “swelling music of the organ” by a Gabriel, a John Peterson, or a Handel? Or would he leave out the reading of Scripture, which is the very foundation of Christianity?

The suggestions he gives are good, but general, and I am sure most religious broadcasters have already taken them into consideration. Religious radio broadcasts have done me worlds of good in the past years; am I different than other people?


Brinnon, Wash.

Hale’s article preserved your record of complete failure in presenting adequate material concerning broadcast evangelism. After reading the two pages devoted to the subject, I am at a loss to fathom the purpose.… He does make a case for purchasing Modern RadioStation Practices by Johnson and Jones. The article would in fact seem to be little more than a review in a religious context of the book. This was, in fact, a poorly written primer on religious broadcasting. Better are available.

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Administrator, Mass Media Department

“The Lutheran Hour”

St. Louis, Mo.

No Ghost

I appreciated the coverage given the books on Bangladesh in your January 4 issue (Books in Review). Yet a correction is in order. The reviewer comments on the “polished” writing in On Duty in Bangladesh and Daktar/Diplomat in Bangladesh, intimating that this is because Jeannette Lockerbie is the “ghostwriter” of both. Although Mrs. Lockerbie is a best-selling author (Salt in My Kitchen, A Plate of Hot Toast), her daughter Jeannie wrote her own book. Jeannie is currently heading up the ABWE literature work in Bangladesh. And Dr. Viggo Olsen wrote his own book, having earlier produced a Muslim Bengali dictionary, among other things. Mrs. Lockerbie naturally had some influence on her daughter’s style—and she did contribute a personal touch to Dr. Olsen’s book by adding details based on her long acquaintanceship with the Olsens and two visits to Bangladesh. It should also be noted that although the reviewer gave only the equivalent of two short paragraphs to Daktar/Diplomat in Bangladesh, it is the only one to make the religious cloth bestseller list, going as high as number three. Despite the fact that it is an autobiography and a mission book, there are now over 50,000 in print, and it is still selling strongly. It has already been translated into German, and negotiations are under way for editions in other languages.



Moody Press

Chicago, Ill.


Just a few words to tell you how much I appreciated the article, “Thrice I Cried, Or, How to Be a Minister’s Wife If You Loathe It” (Jan. 18). I think we (ministers’s wives) as a group are especially eager to gather up every crumb of help we can get, and Meredith Wells’s article is both wise and practical. After being out of the manse for seven years, my husband and I are preparing for a return to it, and I have been rethinking my perspectives on the role and the duties of ministers’s wives, and how I, personally, fit into the picture.…

Meredith Wells’s article reinforces some of my own ideas on “How To Be.…,” and I greatly appreciate it. Now I know I’m not the only one out here who knows that I have to be me, living every day with Jesus, and with the people he has created. Many thanks.


Warrensville Hts., Ohio

While the article is well written and interesting, and makes some good points, it seems deficient in many ways. Having been a minister’s wife for over thirty years, I especially question Meredith Wells’s “either-or-ness” about the whole subject. The only alternatives seem to her either to be an “assistant minister” or to be a drop-out from the situation. There are many alternatives which permit respect for one’s own personhood and yet involvement in the local church.… I personally believe that to be an authentic and loving Christian person in the congregation which my husband is serving is the best way for me to serve in that particular church. Love freely given transforms situations and people, and the dullest people can in loving encounter be discovered as full of interest and fascination. I can truthfully say that I have yet to meet an uninteresting person.…

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As for listening to my husband preach, I’m thankful that this is for me a pleasure. Being able to concentrate in worship comes with really listening and with self-discipline. Helpful to me is lifting the people around me, and all those participating in the service, and particularly my husband as he preaches, up to God in prayer as I worship. This doesn’t distract, but enhances my worship and also my experience of community with others who are worshiping. Being the wife of an extremely dedicated minister hasn’t all been easy or fun, but it has helped me grow as a person, to learn a lot about people, including how lovable most of them are, and to believe more and more that the local congregation is “where the action is,” and that my one life can make a difference there.


Lakeland, Fla.

For Life

The editorial “Where Silence Is Guilt” in your January 18 issue expresses very well the feelings and the frustration of many of us in the pro-life movement. As you stated so well, all the Human Life Amendment legislation is bottled up in a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Don Edwards. It is most discouraging to know that one man can wield so much power on such an issue and thwart the efforts of so many to overturn the Supreme Court decision.…

I want to thank you most heartily for the strong scriptural stand which you have taken in your magazine against permissive abortion, and I am sure this too will be of great benefit and influence to many.


St. Luke Lutheran Church

Dix Hills, N. Y.

Clearing Cataracts

Thank you for printing “The Christian and the Head-Spreader” (Feb. 1). It was greatly appreciated. The Bible is God’s inspired revelation to man, but sometimes people develop emotional cataracts that need to be accepted, removed, or altered before they can see the Christ clearly. Thus, those Christians in the mental-health professions can help those who are troubled to find the way to “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinator

Cave Run Comprehensive Care Center Morehead, Ky.

‘Exorcist’ Thoughts

I couldn’t believe your review and editorial on The Exorcist (Feb. 1). Recent articles in secular news magazines and papers have not been all that favorable. In fact, even were I a film-goer, I would be scared to see this one.

Do you think the Apostle Paul, if he were writing to Christians today, would say, “We cannot wholeheartedly recommend that Christians attend the film”? Or, “Although the film cannot be called a truly Christian film, it does not deserve the strict boycott many evangelicals will give it …”? Rather, I think he would remind us, “Whatever things are true, honest, pure, lovely … think on these things.”

Neither complacent nor strong Christians should have any encouragement from a Christian publication to attend this kind of movie.


Joliet, Ill.

I will look forward to more film reviews in your magazine because Ms. Forbes did a superb job of this one. I have read several other reviews of The Exorcist, but each of them left me unsatisfied about the one point which she handled so beautifully—the faith of Father Merrin. In reading the book, I could not help but be impressed by the depth of involvement and commitment of that man, and I wondered if any movie director could capture it. Your review tells me that Friedkin did not, and for that reason I will not attend the movie.



Tri-Parish Christian Education Center

Richmond, Va.

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